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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Hayden

Twice shy (Mt Crichton)

The sound of my alarm beckons from the far side of the room, my phone tethered to the only cable it charges on with an increasingly temperamental terminal.

A ten inch cord hangs from the power outlet to the floor, susceptible to the slightest movement. I keep it out of reach so not to disturb it through the night,

It's five AM.

🥱

Not being able to silence the alarm from my sleeping position does get me up quicker, I tend to fuck around on social media in bed if my phone is handy.

From a glass half full perspective,

This inconvenience is actually forming healthy habits.


There's no time to fuck around this morning, with the annual clock switchback just over a week away, daylight hours are precious.

I've already spent the first of this three day weekend at home, and the last is forecast for rain.

I really wanted to make Mt Crichton an overnighter, but it's a doable day trip, and being so close to home I can't justify camping in the rain 😅


 

Beneath that cloud is Moke Lake, twenty minutes west of Queenstown.

This picture was taken partway up Williamson's Spur, the so called "secret viewpoint".

Given that I found this on Alltrails I guess it's safe to say that the secret's out 😅


Last time I visited Moke Lake I was scoping out this spur, I figured I'd be able to follow it to Mt Hanley, and eventually Crichton.

Only one thing stood in my way...



From a distance this looks rather intimidating, but so did the bluff behind Fern Burn Hut to Middle Peak.

I know I have a tendency to overthink shit, I also know I've overcome a lot of that shit.


There was some semblance of a path up the rock face, I took it slow and was probably a quarter of the way up when I found myself in a tough spot.

With a lack of reliable holds, and

loose rock beneath my feet slipping with the moisture from the morning frost.

I stopped, trying to silence my anxiety and calculate my next move.

A few branches hung overhead, I pulled myself further across the ledge.

I checked my elevation, still a hundred and fourty vertical metres to the ridge 😳


I should point out there's no record of anyone summiting Crichton from here, infact there's a track not far from here.

I just wanted to do it my way, which is seldom simple.


I reasoned with myself on that ledge, getting up was one thing but getting down would be even more dangerous.

I can stop here, but I can't just go home.

I was getting up this mountain one way or another, there's still plenty of daylight left, the sun's barley awake.


 

Act two begins at the popular Mt Crichton Loop Track, my recent transgression put me well behind schedule.

I kicked things into high gear, flying past the social walkers, chatting away with coffees in hand.


 

The wind was unrelenting above the tree line, but the view was unparalleled.

Mt Hanley, Ben Lomond and The Remarkables above Lake Wakatipu.


I crossed paths with a group of three making their way down the tussock lined ridge, one of whom was rather thrown by my presence.

The young Collie came around once assured that I was a friend.

His aborted summiting with the current conditions.

I nodded along trying to piece together pointers on the tricky sections ahead, but ultimately heard fuck all between gusts. there's only so many times you can ask someone to repeat themselves 😅


 
 

From what I'd seen online there was a couple of ways to tackle the final section, I could traverse the top of the ridge or sidle the west slopes.

I opted to take shelter from the gales, aiming for the trio of rocks you can see ahead.



My anticipation was boiling over as I approached the viewpoint, less than a kilometre to the summit.

I'd all but forgotten about the weather warnings until I made the last few steps around the rocks...


A gust of wind nearly spun me around, carrying my "Holy fuuuuuck" all the way back to Lake Wakatipu.



If I descended into the next scree slope I could take cover from the north-westerlies, but once I cleared that spur I'd be fully exposed.

The thought of a hundred vertical metres under fire shook me to my core.


I swallowed my twice tattered pride and made the call, even if I covered the distance, I wasn't going to make that climb, not like this.



With the wind on my back, I sailed down the mountain, it's actually a blessing I turned back when I did.

Within half an hour the peak clouded over, I wasn't far from the bush line when the rain came down.


Sure, it didn't go how I'd hoped but I knew what I was walking into.

Blind optimism will only get you so far 😅

I plan on returning to Mt Crichton before winter hits, but only if the weather plays ball.

Third times a charm 🤷‍♂️


I'll keep you posted.







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